Rule 2 – Genres are distinctive
In the previous post, I called this tune one of the Battlefield Pibrochs. This is a genre classification I have developed that tries to imagine performances in the context of battle.
We know pibrochs were used in battles for military purposes: The Argyll Fencibles adopted The Finger Lock for Reveille (see David Murray’s book “Music of the Highland Regiments” p. 217), while the use of Cogadh no Sith is recorded in the diary of Spanish John (see Niall MacKenzie’s work):
“we were awakened at break of day . . . by all the Highland Bagpipes playing the general, Cogga na si, having been alarmed by their scouts, who reported that the Duke of Cumberland had sent a much superior force by three different routes to surround them . . . .”
So, what would it require for a piper to play a pibroch on the field of battle, summoning the army to “The End of the Great Bridge”?
I imagine, not the languid, Adagio or even Largo pacing of today’s typical performance – a much less stressful and vastly different environment, and with it, a radically different audience requirement.
So, not only will I end up playing it generally more quickly (which should be the case for pibroch performance in general), but even more urgently, as a call, as a rallying cry: I will use the dissonance of the low-G as an offset to the dominant Ds of the hihararas. In the thumb variation, I will hold the high-A as a kind of high-pitched “shout”.
Like Glengarry’s March, I want this pibroch to stir up a frantic, energetic response.
And I will play it that way.
More to follow…